The maritime industry is fairly expansive, encompassing far more than just people who work on ships. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, it also includes:
- The construction of these vessels
- Scrapping of ships
- Repair jobs on vessels of all sizes and uses
- The movement of cargo
- The movement of materials
Involved in that process are dock hands, shipyard workers and many others. All of these people face some serious injury risks that they need to be aware of. Seven hazards that OSHA specifically notes are:
- Fires, both on ships and in shipyards
- Injuries in enclosed and confined spaces (like carbon monoxide poisoning)
- Exposure to hazardous chemicals
- Danger from heavy equipment
- Danger from machinery used to work on ships, move loads and much more
- Slip and fall hazards
- Falls, both from heights and simply falls on the same level
The best ways that companies can protect their workers is to use training, procedures and controls to eliminate hazards. They also just need to raise awareness for certain hazards so that workers can avoid them on their own.
Essentially, as with many other industries, it comes down to company culture. Workers need to know that safety is important, and they have to be given the proper equipment and information to do their jobs in that manner. This starts with an understanding of the risks.
Of course, that does not guarantee that accidents won't happen or that workers will not get hurt. They can and they do. For those who suffer injuries, it's important to understand all of the legal options at their disposal.